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A LOOK BACK AT STABBING WESTWARD

Written by R.J. MacReady

I know. You're like, "What does Stabbing Westward have to do with horror?"

It's easy to connect them, as their songs have been used in movies from The Faculty and Urban Legend to TV shows like True Blood. Besides that, one of their bigger hits, "Shame", features a music video that is basically a four-minute horror movie, but more on that later.

I don't think I need to defend it though, as their music has always been pretty dark, and most of the horror fanatics that I knew back in the day tended to gravitate toward dark bands like this, Nine Inch Nails, Filter, Marilyn Manson, Gravity Kills and the similar.

For those whose memories aren't what they once were, Stabbing Westward was a band comprised of guys who had played in Die Warzau, Nine Inch Nails, Machines of Loving Grace, Prick, and others. Their biggest hits came in the late nineties and were "What Do I Have To Do?" and "Shame", songs that start off fairly slow but build into blazing guitar riffs stacked on the back of haunting vocals by Christopher Hall. My favorite is "Save Yourself", a song that forgoes the slow build and just puts the rock right up front.

You might ask why I call them the "Twilight Zone" of bands, and I'm here to tell you: Their songs tell stories, and frequently stories with surprise endings.

For instance, "What Do I Have To Do?" tells the story of a man torn apart by a breakup. "What do I have to do...to make you happy?" he asks. "What do I have to do...to make you love me?" The whole song is about this guy asking the girl what he needs to do to get her back.

But then the last words of the song, after going through all the same questions, end with "What do I have to do...to make you love me? And if I can't make you love me, just tell me what do I have to do...to forget about you?" What you thought was a song about a guy pleading to know what he needs to do to get the girl is really a song about a guy desperate to forget a girl that he can't have.

Their other big hit from the album "Wither, Blister, Burn & Peel" is “Shame”, and that song is more straightforward. However, they went ahead and made a music video that told the story of a girl being stalked by her obsessed, psychotic ex, played by Clint Curtis, an actor with small roles in Blade and Deep Rising. It wouldn't take much imagination to believe this obsessed ex is the man who sang “What Do I Have To Do?”. The video cuts between the story of the stalker, and the band playing the song, but slowly the band members slink off, leaving their lead singer to sing alone...and then we see them in a movie theater watching the video WE'RE watching...and that movie ends with a small surprise also. (I'm not gonna blow it all...see it here:

They were a band whose lyrics meant something, and you can feel the genuine agony in every syllable of every word rasped out of Hall's mouth. Their follow-up album couldn't live up to the sales of the first, and pretty soon the band broke up, though some of it was allegedly due to their record label panicking because of the internet and illegal downloading of songs. Anyone remember Limewire?

Those who miss them and wouldn't mind hearing new stuff should check out "The Dreaming", which features lead singer Hall and another Stabbing Westward member, Johnny Haro. If you didn't know better, you'd think a lot of these songs ARE Stabbing Westward.

Surprisingly, Stabbing Westward reformed recently and put out an album in 2022 called “Chasing Ghosts” that’s all killer, no filler. You can check it out and purchase it here: https://stabbingwestward.bandcamp.com/

Perhaps we’re seeing a renaissance of the ‘90s, and I for one for welcome it.

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About The Author
R.J. MacReady
Staff Reviewer - USA
RJ MacReady digs horror movies, even though his first memory of horror films is watching the first Friday the 13th movie while a bear mauled his family in the other room. He admits that most of his bio is as fake as his moniker, but witness protection won't let him use his real name.
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